124. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Counselor of the British Embassy (de la Mare) and the Director of the Office of Chinese Affairs (McConaughy), Department of State, Washington, February 6, 19571


  • Chinese Representation Issue at Gold Coast Independence Ceremony

Mr. de la Mare called to discuss the Chinese representation question at the Gold Coast Independence Ceremony, scheduled for early March. He said that Mr. Bottomley2 had called that morning on an officer in the Office of Southern Africa Affairs to discuss this matter, and had been told that the matter was being handled primarily in FE.

He said the British Embassy had received a telegram from the Foreign Office referring to representations made in London by the American Embassy on this question. The Embassy had requested the British Government to advise the Gold Coast authorities to invite [Page 366] the GRC to the ceremony, and to withdraw the invitation to the Chinese Communists.3 He said that both the Foreign Office and the British Embassy here consider this an “odd” request. The Foreign Office understood that the American Consul General in Accra had already urged the Gold Coast authorities to invite the GRC in place of the Chinese Communists, and had told the Gold Coast authorities that if they were interested in UN membership for the Gold Coast, it would be relevant to bear in mind that the GRC was one of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council.4

Mr. de la Mare said that the Foreign Office was not disposed to recommend the suggested action. The Foreign Office thought it would be wrong to expose the Gold Coast to the embarrassment of inviting the representatives of two rival governments claiming sovereignty over the same country. Furthermore, the British thought it would be a mistake for the Gold Coast to start its independent existence by antagonizing Communist China, which Mr. de la Mare described as “one of the great powers of the world”. He said it would cause the Gold Coast Government to start off “with two strikes against it”.

Mr. de la Mare said that the British Government had not tried to exert any special influence on the Gold Coast authorities in the selection of the governments to be invited. The Gold Coast had requested the advice of the British Government. The latter had provided a list of the countries with which the British maintained diplomatic relations. The Gold Coast authorities had accepted this list as the basis for their own list of invitees. The British considered this action appropriate and were pleased that their list had been used by the Gold Coast.

He said the British Government “rather hoped” that the Gold Coast would not recognize or establish diplomatic relations with the Chinese Communists. But the British Government considered the presence of the Chinese Communists at the inauguration ceremonies to be a different question. No objection was perceived to the presence of the Chinese Communists at the inauguration ceremony.

In questioning various points made by Mr. de la Mare, I observed that the presence of the Chinese Communists at Accra, and the absence of the GRC, would have very unfortunate effects from our standpoint, and we believed also from the British standpoint. It would enhance the international prestige of the Chinese Communists at the expense of the GRC; it would give the Chinese Communists a [Page 367] better entree into Central Africa and would materially improve their prospects for the establishment of a permanent diplomatic mission in Accra; it would tend to dispose other countries of Africa more favorably toward Communist China; it would increase the Chinese Communist potential for subversive activities in Africa and would add to Chinese Communist influence in the Afro-Asian bloc. I recalled that the British were cooperating with us on the Chinese Communist representation question in the UN through the “moratorium” arrangement, and expressed the hope that the same approach could be brought to the Gold Coast problem. I referred to British concurrence with us as to the desirability of denying an invitation to the Chinese Communists for the inauguration ceremonies of the new Malayan Government at Kuala Lumpur next August. I also mentioned that the Vice President was to attend the Gold Coast ceremonies and that the presence of a Chinese Communist delegation might present difficulties in that regard.

Mr. de la Mare said that the British Government went along with the UN moratorium arrangement “most reluctantly” and he did not know how much longer the arrangement could be continued. In any event the same principle could not be applied outside the UN. He said that the U.S. “should not put any additional strain on the delicate balance now existing between the U.S. and the UK” on the Chinese representation question by asking the UK’s support for U.S. China policy, which he considered unrealistic and lacking international support. He said that the presence of Chinese Nationalist representatives at Accra might create almost as much embarrassment for high British representatives as the presence of Chinese Communists would for the Vice President.

In response to a query, he said that the British Embassy was not registering a complaint against past or prospective representations by the American Consul General at Accra on this subject. However, the British Government had not at any time attempted to pressure the Gold Coast in this matter and he hoped that the U.S. Government would show similar restraint. He did not think a further approach in Accra would do any good in any event. It was too late to withdraw the invitation to the Chinese Communists, and a belated invitation to the GRC (which he did not consider a government, but a mere de facto regime on Taiwan) would be a direct affront to the Chinese Communists and create unnecessary difficulties for the Gold Coast authorities. It would be tantamount to withdrawing the invitation to the Chinese Communists, since it was common knowledge that the Chinese Communists could not and would not attend if the Chinese Nationalists were to be present. He said that if the Gold Coast now complied with U.S. wishes it would be manifest to all that the Gold Coast was bowing to U.S. influence and was not being allowed to [Page 368] exercise its independent judgment. He thought this would be a made-to-order anti-imperialist propaganda theme for the Communists.

Mr. de la Mare said that if the Department wished to pursue the matter further, he was at our disposal, but as of now the reaction of the Foreign Office on the U.S. request was negative.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 845k.424/2–657. Confidential. Drafted by McConaughy.
  2. James R.A. Bottomley, First Secretary of the British Embassy in Washington.
  3. Telegram 4081 from London, February 1, reported that the Embassy had raised the subject with the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office. (Department of State, Central Files, 745k.02/2–157)
  4. Consul General Lamm’s reports of his conversations on this subject in Accra are ibid., 745k.02.